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Calorie Count Blog

Build-It-Yourself Taco Bar

By +Janice D'Agostino on Aug 24, 2012 10:00 AM in Recipes

Such a simple, brilliant meal: a tortilla wrapped around a stuffing. No utensils needed. The taco. That’s it. – Gustavo Arellano, Journalist and author of the ¡Ask a Mexican! column and the book Taco USA.

It can be a challenge to get one dinner on the table that makes everyone happy. Your husband is a serious carnivore, your daughter a vegetarian, your son a remarkably picky eater who manages to grow in spite of his limited food repertoire, and you just want everyone to eat healthy interesting food while you avoid processed grains and watch calories. What can you serve a family this diverse? A fun, build it yourself taco bar! With a few careful choices, even a taco can be a hit with your calorie log.

Tacos are no longer just associated with Mexico. In the U.S., each region makes their own special taco using ingredients the locals love. Would an Italian make a taco with basil, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella? Imagine tacos made with Parisian flare or Irish whimsy!

To make taco night easy on you, cook only one or two fillings. Choose the rest from fresh raw fruits and veggies and set everything out in pretty bowls. Offer a choice of hard taco shells, small flour tortillas, and for the grain light members - large leaves of lettuce. 

I very much love the stir fry veggie recipe in Vegetarian Indian Tacos, a wonderful dish from my new favorite chef Michael Natkin of Herbivoracious. The Navajo fry bread sounds delicious too. I will make that this weekend for sure.

Have family members that are not big fans of spicy foods? No problem. Claire’s Mild Fish Tacos will light up your taste buds and lighten your caloric load. 

This recipe for Charro Beans includes a vegetarian variation. Make it mild or spicy as your taste buds prefer. Smash with a fork for your very own tasty un-refried beans.


There are several interesting recipes in Vegetarian Times Grilled Portobello Tacos. The marinade is simple. Choose to make the recommended Salsa Verde or use your favorite salsa. 

Diets In Review's Apple Chicken Sausage Quesadillas is a fantastic non-Tex-Mex filling for a taco. Simply prepare the apple chicken sausage as directed and put it in a tortilla shell.

Vegans can have tacos too! I found this terrific recipe for Vegan Bean Taco Filling at allrecipes. 

Make the turkey meat from this recipe for Taco Salad and use it in place of the traditional ground beef taco filling. For that matter, take any recipe for tacos, tostadas, burritos, or enchiladas and explode it onto your plate salad style.

Add a little crunch and nutrition to your soft taco with the cabbage slaw idea in Vegetarian Times Clayudas (a flat taco topped with slaw and black beans).

For the real deal recipes, I love Hispanic Kitchen. You can’t go wrong with any of their recipes. Baja Fish Taco with a Cabbage Pico de Gallo is a particularly beautiful way to eat a taco.

Feeding a crowd? Check out the Taco Party ideas at Mexico in My Kitchen

A little while back, I gave you a few recipes for tortillas and other wraps. Since then, I’ve found a few more great tortilla recipes. Check out these gluten free tortillas or try making tortillas with chick peas!

A tostada is a flat open faced version of a crunchy taco. Low fat corn tortillas crisp up nicely to become tostada shells with just a few drops of olive oil or a spray of non-stick spray in a skillet set to high heat. "Fry" the tortilla briefly on each side until brown and crispy. Set between paper towels to absorb any excess oil as you crisp up the next batch. Tostada shells are even better when you take five minutes and stir up the fat free corn tortillas mixture yourself. 

Your thoughts...

Do you eat traditional tacos or do you eat a local variation on the theme? If you live outside of the Americas, do you eat a special version of the taco that keeps to your cultural roots? Do you prefer crispy or soft? Vegetarian or carnivorous? Spicy or mild? What is your favorite recipe for taco fillings? Share your recipes with everyone here! If you would like the recipe to be considered for CC Palate, please send it to me via pmThis article may be reprinted (including bio) with prior permission from the author.


sound good to me ,thank u i'll try it  arleen

Yum, these sound good, especially the portobello tacos!

These are some very unusual taco recipes!!!  

Another suggestion is to use ground chicken.  I like it better than turkey and it has a similar consistency to ground beef when cooked.  

It's a pain to make but pico de gallo (with diced tomatoes, onions, hot peppers, cilantro, and a little garlic) is ALL you need to season your tacos.  YYYYYum!

Jim ~ half meal habit

What is the best way to burn fat and lose weight?

Thanks for the incredible sheer number of new taco interesting...something for everyone!

We do this all the time at home and it's a hit with everyone. My 3 y/o son loves picking his toppings and its a great vessel for the veggies he loves!

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